January 4 — THE NATCHEZ BURNIN’, Howlin’ Wolf (1956)

imageMy Sanibel read this year is “Natchez Burning” by best-selling novelist Greg Iles. (The title is taken from a well-known blues song based on fires in the town of Natchez, Mississippi in 1940.) It’s the story of unsolved and long-ignored murders in the South, mainly around the 1960s civil rights movement. It’s a fast and entertaining read, if not especially high-minded. The characters are one-dimensional and not particularly likable or interesting. Isles tacks cliffhangers onto the end of every chapter, and there are enough coincidences to make a soap opera blush. What keeps me turning the pages are the twists and turns of the plot, and the tangled web of dozens of relationships. It’s a bit of a dirty affair overall, but fitting for a read on the beach.


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